Major crimes, p.13

Major Crimes, page 13

 

Major Crimes
 


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  Cain silently stepped over to their second-floor window, keeping his body far to the side. He peeked out the farthest corner, careful not to shift the curtains.

  The street outside was empty, no movement, as to be expected in the middle of the night. He allowed his vision to adjust even further. And then saw it.

  A white van, halfway down the block, someone watching the building with binoculars in the driver’s seat.

  Cain forced himself not to make any sudden movements from the window, just gently stepped back.

  They needed to get out of there.

  Cain moved over to Hayley and put his lips close to her ear.

  “Hays, wake up,” he said softly, not wanting to wake up Mason.

  Her eyes flew open. “Cain?”

  “Yeah. We’re in trouble. Somebody’s cut the power to the building and there are people outside.”

  Cain had no idea how many or how rapidly and violently they would be approaching.

  Hayley slid her arm out from under Mason and turned toward Cain, sitting up.

  “What do we do?”

  “Get your shoes on and wake up Ariel. We’ve got to get out of here.”

  Hayley nodded and got up, padding softly into the other room.

  Weapon drawn, Cain stuck his head out the door and looked up and down the hall. No one was out there, which was a good sign. Whoever was after them wasn’t going to come in guns blazing, or they’d already be here.

  He shut the door and turned and faced Ariel and Hayley, concern evident in both their faces.

  “Is there anyone out there?” Ariel asked.

  “Not yet. My bet is that they have the front and rear exits guarded, and plan to pull the fire alarm and take us as we rush out.”

  Hayley’s face lost all color. “I can’t let them take Mason. I’d rather give myself up.”

  Cain walked to her and cupped her cheeks with his hands. “It’s not going to come to that.”

  Her hands came up and clutched his wrists. “Promise me we get Ariel and Mason out, if it comes down to it.”

  Cain nodded. He understood her fear and would make sure Mason was safe. But he had no intention of losing Hayley while doing that.

  He dropped his hands and moved over to the window, careful once again not to disturb the curtains.

  Definitely more action outside. Whoever was after Hayley could just use her fugitive status to incorporate local law enforcement into the chase. Cain didn’t know if the people about to make their move were cops just doing their job or killers who didn’t care who they hurt.

  Then Cain saw a uniformed police officer walk up to the white van and tap on the window.

  The man on the inside rolled down the window, then, without warning, pulled out a gun with a silencer and shot the officer, point-blank.

  Cain cursed under his breath. Guess that answered his question about who they were dealing with.

  “Let’s go. We’ve got to get out right now.”

  “What happened?” Hayley asked as she slipped shoes on Mason’s feet, the kid never even waking up.

  He turned and looked at her. “Looks like it’s some of Brickman’s associates. They’re going to shoot first, collect the reward later.”

  Hayley swept Mason’s sleeping form up into her arms. “Let’s go.”

  Cain checked the hallway once again and then led them out.

  “If they’re blocking both doors how are we going to get past them downstairs?” Ariel asked.

  “We’re not going down.”

  He hadn’t chosen this hotel just because it didn’t require credit cards. It had also been the best option in terms of multiple exit routes.

  He led them to the stairs and cracked open a door. He signaled for the women to be as quiet as possible, and prayed Mason would stay asleep, as they began to climb the two stories up to the roof. He could hear the effort it was taking Hayley to carry Mason’s dead weight, but couldn’t afford to stop and offer to help. If Mason woke up and started crying it would all be over. After two flights they reached a small metal ladder.

  “You okay?” he whispered to Hayley.

  She nodded, shifting Mason slightly in her arms.

  Cain climbed the five steps on the ladder leading up to the hatch going to the roof. The hatch door itself was old and rusted; he would have no problem getting it open, but there was no way he was going to do it quietly.

  The next second the fire alarm began blaring. Cain didn’t waste any time—noise didn’t matter now. He used his shoulder to drive into the rusted hinges of the door, ignoring the pain as he felt it give way.

  Ariel let Hayley up first since Mason had started crying with all the noise. She was struggling to get him up the rungs since he was now shifting his weight and trying to cover his ears. If she wasn’t careful the boy was going to cause both of them to fall.

  Cain reached down and grabbed Hayley under her armpits, hoisting both her and Mason up and onto the roof.

  “Thank you,” she muttered. Ariel climbed up right behind them and Cain put the door back in place.

  “Where do we go now?” Hayley asked.

  She wasn’t going to like it. Hell, he didn’t even like it.

  He led them over to the east side of the building that was connected to the next one. They ran together onto the roof of the third building. Cain was thankful for the older design of the town, which caused the stores and shops to be built connected together to save money.

  The next building had an outdoor fire escape. They could use it to get down, but they would need to jump the five-foot gap between the buildings.

  He saw Hayley’s face as she realized what was going to happen. She began shaking her head.

  Cain crossed to her. “We have to hurry. It won’t take them long to figure out we are not in our room and the only way we could’ve gone was up.”

  “I can’t make it with him,” she said, features pinched.

  “I can.”

  She nodded. Cain turned to Mason. “Hey, buddy. Want to play a game?”

  The youngster looked skeptical. Cain couldn’t blame him. “You and I are going to pretend to go on a roller coaster ride. Sound fun?”

  Mason’s eyes lit up and his little arms reached for Cain. Cain took his son for the first time and held him in his arms.

  He just wished it wasn’t because someone might burst onto the roof at any moment and try to kill them all.

  “I’ll go first in case you need help.” Ariel backed up and ran, clearing the gap easily. She motioned for Cain to jump with Mason.

  He felt Hayley’s hand on his arm. He reached his hand under her nape and pulled her in for a quick kiss. “We’ll make it.”

  Mason giggled. “You kissed Mama Hayley.”

  “Hang on, buddy,” he whispered in the little boy’s ear. “Time for our roller coaster ride.”

  Keeping one arm firmly planted around Mason’s tiny middle, Cain pushed into a run, gathering more speed than he needed, just in case. A few moments later he was airborne, Mason’s giggles in his ears.

  Cain’s feet hit the roof of the other building without any problem. He squeezed Mason quickly, then handed him to Ariel, who began leading him to the fire escape. “Be as quiet as possible.”

  Ariel nodded and Cain turned back to Hayley, who was already backing up to run.

  The hatch door to the roof opened behind her, but it was too late to signal—she was already running. Cain pulled his firearm at the same time the man made it through and drew his own gun. The man shot at Cain first, causing Cain to dive to the side. He got off two rounds as he flew, killing the man.

  But the man also got off a shot. At Hayley.

  He heard Hayley’s cry as the bullet hit her just as she left the safety of the roof. Instead of a smooth jump across like he and Ariel had, Hayley’s b
ody jerked, throwing her weight to the side.

  She wasn’t going to clear the ledge.

  Her chest hit the corner and fingers pressed for a grip as she slid toward the edge. In his periphery, he could see Ariel pick up Mason and keep his head averted.

  Cain dived for the ledge, grunting at the hard impact, his fingers grasping Hayley’s just as she was falling.

  “Got you.” There was no way he was letting go.

  She used her other hand to reach up and grab his wrist, even though he could tell it was painful for her.

  “I’m okay.”

  Cain pulled her up and wrapped one arm around her, easing her to the ground.

  “Where are you hit?”

  “My side.”

  He lifted up her shirt and immediately saw the wound. It hit the fleshy part of the very outer edge of her waist, through and through. In terms of a torso shot, that was almost the best spot someone could hope for. It was bleeding, but obviously hadn’t hit any critical organs.

  “I know it has to hurt, baby, but we’ve got to get off this rooftop. As soon as the guy who shot you doesn’t check in, they’re going to know where we are.”

  Hayley nodded. “I can make it.”

  Keeping as much pressure on her wound as he could, he helped her off the ground and led her quickly over to the fire escape. Ariel continued her downward path with Mason.

  “Do you want me to carry you?” He’d have to do a fireman’s carry, which would probably be more painful for her, but the narrow stairs of the fire escape wouldn’t allow him to carry her in his arms.

  “No, I’ll be all right.”

  He kept his arm around her as they made their way quickly down to the ground. Hayley made it, true to her word.

  They kept to the shadows as they hurried down the block to the car. Fortunately all the chaos at the hotel meant no one’s attention was on them.

  “You ride in the back with little man,” Cain said to Ariel. Blood was already soaking through Hayley’s shirt. Cain didn’t want to scare him.

  Ariel nodded and got Mason into his car seat while Cain got Hayley in the passenger seat.

  “We need to get you to a hospital.”

  Hayley shook her head. “No. Once they realize one of us was wounded, they will be checking the hospitals. We can’t take the chance.”

  The wound wasn’t life-threatening, but that didn’t mean it didn’t hurt like hell. Hayley was sweating, her face pale.

  “I can make it, Cain.”

  “You keep saying that.”

  He gritted his teeth, biting off a curse. They had to get out of here before they were noticed. Ariel passed up a clean T-shirt from the back seat and Cain gave it to Hayley.

  “Keep pressure on your wound.”

  She nodded and he jogged around to the driver’s side.

  He started the car without turning on the lights, and drove down the side street. He didn’t turn on the headlights until they were a mile outside of town. Soon they were speeding back toward the highway.

  “What are we going to do?” Ariel asked, her hand reaching up from the back seat to wipe Hayley’s sweat-soaked hair away from her brow.

  “Do they have some sort of medical facility at Omega headquarters?” Hayley asked. “Enough to patch me up?”

  Cain looked over at her. Pain bracketed her mouth, but she didn’t look like she was in danger of going into shock.

  “Yes, we have excellent field medics.” And it would be safe. “But we’re six hours from Colorado Springs, and that’s if I drive like hell.”

  Hayley’s brown eyes pinned him. “Then drive like hell.”

  Chapter Seventeen

  Hayley felt like her whole body ached. They’d been in the car for three hours, and she tried to console herself with the fact that they were more than halfway.

  They’d stopped two hours ago at an all-night drugstore where Cain had bought hydrogen peroxide and gauze.

  That had hurt.

  But Cain had some basic medical training and he hadn’t insisted on a hospital after seeing her wound more clearly. If it was that bad he would’ve insisted on a hospital despite the possible danger.

  She grimaced as she shifted.

  “How are you holding up?” He didn’t glance over at her; he was going too fast to take his eyes from the road.

  “How come people on TV and in movies who get shot jump up and run a marathon or something while looking gorgeous?”

  “Because those people have stuntmen. They don’t even pretend to get shot.”

  “I think I want to hire a stuntman for my next adventure.”

  She shifted to try to get more comfortable. But she couldn’t. Physically or mentally.

  The people chasing her had found them. Had found them and shot at them.

  What if the man who had shot her had shown up fifteen seconds earlier? What if he had burst out when Cain had been jumping with Mason in his arms?

  Hayley would’ve had no way to stop him. Cain and Mason would have plummeted to their deaths.

  Hayley’s heart turned icy at the thought.

  Moreover, a truth had become clear to her.

  She turned to Cain. “I can’t run. I have to fight.”

  Cain gave a half shrug. “It’s hard to fight when you don’t know who your enemy is.”

  “My plan had been to buy myself some time. To stay off computers until I had enough money to run if I needed to. But that won’t work. Look at how fast they found us.”

  “You’re never going to have enough money to run from someone with this much power. Whoever found us this quickly is highly connected.”

  Hayley nodded. That much she already knew.

  “What I said in the hotel is the truth to me.” She glanced over her shoulder to where both Mason and Ariel were sleeping in the back seat. “Mason’s safety is the most important thing. Ariel’s, too. They are both innocent in all this.”

  “You’re not guilty of these crimes, either, Hayley.”

  “I know. But it was my mistakes that led me down this path to begin with. I need to get Mason and Ariel somewhere safe so that I can figure out what to do.”

  “So we can figure out what to do. You’re not alone anymore.”

  Hayley wasn’t going to let Cain risk his life for this.

  This was her fault and her fight. But she needed him. Needed his help.

  Wanted to rely on the strength he offered. And once she figured out who was behind this, and how to catch them, then she would hand it over to him, let him do what he did best. Enforce the law.

  But she wouldn’t let him take a bullet for her, literally or figuratively.

  The weight of it all bore down on her. She stared out the window wondering how the straight-A student she’d been in high school had become a fugitive ex-con with a bullet wound.

  She felt his hand reach out and touch just above her knee. “Hey, did you hear me? You’re not in this alone. I mean it.”

  His fingers left her leg and moved up to her cheek, making a gentle trail. Hayley couldn’t help it; she leaned into his touch.

  “All right,” she said softly.

  “I know a place where Mason and Ariel can stay and be safe. A friend from Omega Sector.”

  “How can you be sure this friend isn’t the traitor we’re searching for?”

  Hayley didn’t want to insult the bond of friendship, but she couldn’t take a chance with Mason’s life.

  “Because the traitor and his partner, Damien Freihof, nearly killed my friend and his fiancée a few months ago.”

  That seemed like proof enough indeed.

  “Ashton and Summer have a daughter, around Mason’s age, so their house will be ready for kids and he’ll have toys and stuff.”

  “Do you think they’ll mind?”

&n
bsp; “I think they are both willing to do anything, particularly something as easy as opening their home to Ariel and Mason, to help bring these criminals to justice.”

  She couldn’t help but smile. “Bring criminals to justice,” she repeated in a deep voice, obviously mocking him. “I feel like you should be wearing a cape or something.”

  “I’ve got my cape in my closet at home. Maybe if you’re good I’ll let you see it.”

  It had been so long since she’d flirted she couldn’t even remember how. She tried to think of something clever to say, but just smiled instead.

  His hand reached over and squeezed her leg once more before returning to the steering wheel. She could swear she felt heat through her clothes where his fingers had been.

  “Rest now,” he said gently. “Capes and catching criminals in a few hours.”

  Hayley turned and looked back out the window. Sleep was a long time in coming.

  * * *

  “WHAT SHE CAN do is pretty amazing,” Steve Drackett, head of the Omega Sector Critical Response Division, said to Cain thirty-six hours later. “And after a bullet wound? Even more incredible.”

  They were in a small set of rooms, not much bigger than closets really, in the corner of the headquarters building. This area, used for data entry and analysis, got neither much traffic nor much scrutiny from regular agents. The people in this section of the building definitely did not have the clearance, or inside information, to be the mole.

  Steve had set them up with the computer resources Hayley needed to do both the tasks she was currently concentrating on. She had two full computers in front of her, each with its own keyboard. One system had two screens she could toggle between. Her fingers flew over the keys faster than Cain could even tap his on a table.

  This was Hayley in her element.

  “She’s definitely impressive. And motivated.”

  They were watching her through a window, which allowed her to work without being distracted but also allowed Cain to be able to see what she was working on.

  He hadn’t asked for Steve to set them up like this, but he had to admit it made him feel a little better. Did he still not trust her completely?

  “Someone coming after their young will cause even the most nonaggressive animals to fight. So I don’t blame her for being motivated,” Steve said. “And, by the way, congratulations. I hear you are a dad.”

 
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